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The Slippery Slope

Have you ever found yourself doing something you never thought you would ever do, participating in a sin you never thought possible? Though it was totally out of character for you, did you somehow fall into it and then wondered how? There’s a little book in Bible that is often times overlooked that might shed some light on how we end up on such a slippery slope.

The book of Obadiah is a part of the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. It is a small book or only 21 verses. But don’t let the size fool you. It is packed with truth relevant for today.

This book takes place at a time when the nation of Edom encouraged and participated in the overtaking of Judah by Babylon. It is important to note that the nation of Edom comes from the line of Esau while the nation of Judah comes from the line of Jacob. Now you might remember that Jacob and Esau were brothers who were estranged at one time over the birthright that Esau gave away and Jacob stole. But they, in time, restored their relationship. Edom and Judah should have been allies. But Edom had joined in the violence against Judah and Obadiah is proclaiming God’s coming judgment against Edom.

It is important to note that Edom did not just jump right into sin and violence. No, theirs was a slippery slope from temptation to evil. The description of their slow and steady downfall is found in Obadiah, verses 11-14. It serves as a great warning to us all.

“On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.” (vs. 11) Does is seem strange that being aloof could be wrong? Edom isn’t actually doing anything sinful at this point are they? To be “aloof” is to be “indifferent” They’re watching but do seem to care one way or the other what happens. Look to James 4:17. It says: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Lack of action can be a sin if there was good you could have done. Edom could have helped Judah. Instead they watched. But they didn’t stop there.

“You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.” (verse 12) Here is our first shift. Edom is no longer aloof. They are looking down on Judah, rejoicing about Judah’s destruction, boasting about their trouble. Perhaps the destruction was the hottest news of the time. Perhaps the Edomites were enjoying spreading the news just a little too much. Psalm 137:7 gives us a bit more information. In the second half the verse it records Edom’s reaction: “‘Tear it down,’ they cried, ‘tear it down to its foundations!'” They had turned from being indifferent to being cheerleaders, only they were cheering for the wrong team! But they didn’t stop there either.

“You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.” (vs. 13-14) Now Edom has marched through the gates of Jerusalem, looted it, and joined in the siege. They have killed fugitives and handed survivors over to Babylon. They are fully participating the takeover. Edom, who is Judah’s brother, who should be on Judah’s side, has joined and helped the enemy. It’s sad isn’t it?

Do you see the progression here? First Edom was watching, yet aloof. They didn’t seem to care either way what happened to Judah. Then they progressed to enjoying the show and cheering the fall of Judah. Finally Edom turned from bystanders to participants.

What about us? How often to we start with a look, then a stare, then we’re attracted and rejoicing over sin having been fully enticed, and finally participating. The progression can be slow or quick but it will end the same way if we allow the look. As an example, picture yourself in a group of gossiping women. First your sitting there quietly ignoring the conversation. Then you find yourself interested and enjoying each juicy morsel. Finally and sadly you participate. Have you ever found yourself falling into sin in this way? I know I have! The first mistake is the look. Are we to look and be sin’s audience? What does the Bible say? How do we resist sin?

1 Corinthians 6:18 says to “flee sexual immorality…”
1 Corinthians 10:14 says “flee from idolatry…”
1 Timothy 6:11 says “flee from all this…” referring to the love of money and the harmful desires that accompany it,
2 Timothy 2:22 says, “flee the evil desires of youth…”

When it comes to sin, don’t stand there looking, FLEE! Get out of there!!

“Dear Lord, Help us to always remember to flee sin. Help us not to give it a look or consideration but to run the other way. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Give us ears to hear your voice and follow. Remind us of you grace and mercy when we fall. May we never neglect to confess our sin and repent of our ways.”


  1. Nicole

    Wow, Karen! This hits me right where I am at this exact moment. God bless you for writing this message. Thank you!

  2. Jeannette

    This blessed and encouraged my Spirit! Thank you!

  3. miss mary

    Okay I’ll have to read this. I think we all need this. everyone is tempted and falls. thanks bg hugs

  4. Sare

    Thank you Karen for this. I heard something similar on the UCB (United Christian Broadcast) radio station yesterday -“If you see sin, run away, don’t be tempted!” May the Lord’s spirit show us the way, so we can identify sin swiftly and look to the right path. May He give us discernment, understanding, judgement and wisdom as we live our lives here on Earth, and grow in His spirit. Guide us oh Lord and bless all who read Karen’s words here. Thank you Karen!

  5. Yvonne

    Wow! I didn’t realise that all that was in Obadiah Karen. I must admit that I don’t dip into the minor prophets much and esp as you say, they are small and I tend to think that the ‘major’ ones are the more important..duh me. That’s incredible that they should have been allies but Edom became an enemy. I pray that I will flee if that time ever comes!